This week we thought we’d give you a peek at what our kitchen here in Cusco looks like. Our kitchen here is pretty basic, but it does have a few perks. First of all, it’s actually IN our apartment, and we don’t have to share it with anyone else. (In Cambodia, we shared a communal kitchen which was in another building on our property.) This kitchen is typical for this part of the world. It’s small and functional. Our kitchen is actually so small that our refrigerator doesn’t even fit in it, and lives in the dining area of our living room. But at least we have a refrigerator, stove, and sink and did not have to provide or install any of them ourselves. And a small kitchen without a lot of stuff means we spend practically no time cleaning.
Here is a quick video tour:
In our old life, I was the Queen of Kitchen Stuff and Stuff for Entertaining. I cannot tell you how many dishes, glasses, and other kitchen paraphernalia we sold before we left the US, but if you ever needed something I was a good person to ask. Every cabinet in our kitchen, plus storage in our dining room and the garage, was packed full of kitchen and entertaining stuff. It was ridiculous!
Since we’ve hit the road, we have learned to live (& cook) with a lot less and it is always a fun challenge to see what we can pull off in here. As you can see, we don’t have an oven or a microwave, which means everything needs to be cooked on a propane burner. We eat at home about 80% of the time here, cooking with fresh foods from the local market, which is the healthiest and most economical choice.
Here is what is currently in our kitchen in Peru:
2 propane burners
1 mixing bowl
1 measuring cup
1 cutting board
1 electric kettle
Enough silverware for 2 people (spoons, knives, forks)
Here is a close up of our kitchen sink tap. It only has cold water, which is typical. (The only hot water in our apartment is in our shower.) I’m guessing your somewhat dated original sink fixtures aren’t looking so bad right now, are they?
The water also comes out incredibly cloudy and needs to be boiled or treated before we can drink it. We boil water throughout the day for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. We typically do that in our electric kettle because boiling water on the stove here takes a long time and uses up a lot of gas.
Finding our electric kettle was quite an adventure. Our landlord kept promising us one but never delivering. So, after a while, we decided to get one ourselves. We had seen several people selling them on the street outside our local mercado, but were a bit leery of purchasing one there. Then one afternoon, we were wandering down a street in Cusco and stumbled across the street with all the large appliance stores. So we popped into one of them on a whim to see if they had a kettle. Salespeople kept asking us if they could help us as we walked past all the larger appliances, looking for the small electrics. Of course, we didn’t know what an electric kettle was called in Spanish (& weren’t at all prepared since we weren’t planning on looking for one that day). We finally saw what we wanted at the back of the store and let them know we wanted to purchase one.
This is where the comedy of errors starts. To purchase anything from an appliance store in Peru, they have to input all your personal information (& what you wish to purchase) into their computer system, even if you are paying cash. Then you go upstairs to the cashier to pay and then back downstairs to pick up your purchase.
The problem arose when my passport number did not have the same number of digits as a Peruvian one. Since the store is not set up to sell to extranjeros, there was no way around this. A US passport also doesn’t have the same number of digits as a Peruvian DNI, their equivalent to a social security number. Even adding extra digits wouldn’t fool the system. So the salesperson would input all my info, generate the payment code for me to take to the cashier, and send us upstairs. But by the time we got upstairs, I would no longer be in the system and so there would be no record or code for me to make a payment on. So we would go back downstairs and try again.
After three tries, loads of confusion and frustration on the salesperson’s part, and several apologies, we finally gave up. We went and found that nice man in the street near the mercado and bought an hervidor electrico from him for less than half what the store wanted. It works great!
Next big adventure: purchasing a liquidora (blender)
Have a stovetop recipe you love that you think we should try? Post it in the comments.